Born in Marsala, Sicily, he has been turning his passion into a job for 20 years. We are speaking about Nicola Sammartano, Executive chef of “L’Astrako” Restaurant, recently opened in Favignana, a beautiful island situated in Sicily.
When he was 18 years old he moved to Naples where he worked and trained himself in the catering by “L’Antica Pasticceria Mungiguerra”, situated in Aversa, and then in the gastronomy at the “Four stars Hotel Marcantonio”.
Let's learn more about his story....
Did you always wanted to become a chef?
I say that it was written in the stars. I’m come from three restaurants’ generation, I’m grown in this location and I always wanted to express this passion and transmit it to people with my creation.
How do you choose the products to use in your courses?
I choose the quality and the genuineness, not only entrusting to everyday vendors, but also going personally to the market, where I can find traditional aromas and flavours, in particular the ones of my land, Sicily.
Speaking about food, Made in Italy has always been synonymous of excellence. How does the international cuisine influence it?
Made in Italy always makes us stand out in the world. I’m tied to Italian typical products and tradition, and I get inspiration from Italian gastronomy Academy history and slow food, but I use also all the incitements and the innovative ideas coming from international cuisine.
How much is important the technology in the professional restaurant industry for a chef nowadays?
Despite I’m still fascinated by the traditional cooking with wood oven, I’m aware of the importance of technology for a chef because permits you to manage and optimize the work, to reduce cooking times and to store food perfectly ensuring the highest cleanliness level.
Where do you get the inspiration for your courses?
The inspiration…weel, let me thank…it cannot be revealed....! Seriously, I get inspiration from the sea, the wind and the sky, from Sicilys’ flavours, while I speak with fishermen and I enter in old small stores. I try to not repeat myself while I am cooking and to follow the inspiration of the moment realizing something good and out of the ordinary.
Let’s speak about technology. Why did you choose Baron?
I chose Baron because you can find uniqueness and elegance in its lines. Baron strike you for his roundedness and the peculiarity of the elements and the beauty and solidity of the steel. Baron gives you functionality and permits you to move with naturalness in the kitchen. It has something extraordinary but it give you safety and professionalism.
Tell more about “the soul” of this restaurant.
To find out the soul of the restaurant you should go upstairs and... looking at the sky....!
The name is Astrako, because “Astrachi”, in sicilian dialect means “ roofs”. In the ancient Sicilian houses, during summer nights, people used to get up to the roof, spending time speaking about the day passed, sipping good wine and enjoying the sea breeze. At the Astrako, when you will get to the penthouse, you will relive this tradition, tasting delicious fresh fish and looking at the stars.
I chose this name personally together with the restaurant owner, engeneer Russo and his brother Gianfranco. We are sure that it will give an original touch to the location.
Which is the course of your menu you particulary love?
All my courses were born from a signature kitchen. In fact I sign all my menus. Regarding to the Astrako menu, certainly I will work towards about the offers of the sea of Sicily.
The course that I suggest is: truffle sea with red shrimp on a oysters mush.
What’s the most important desire for a chef?
I’ve never tought about it....sincerely noboby never asked me this question!
I think that is the longing to do a good job, transmitting the passion that I have for cooking through my creations and realizing that customers trust me and appreciate my talent and my effort to get better every day.
This is the story of L'Astrako restaurant and Baron. Do you want to tell us the story of your restaurant?
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"LE CEDRARE" where the citrus trees used to be kept during the winter, has now become the Villa Perez-Pompei- Sagramoso. Created by the architect Vincenzo Pellesina, this neoclassical villa welcomes guests into an enchanting world of extensive windows, fountains and a delightful play of hedges in the magnificent garden, as well as into the intricate nuances of wine, fine foods, and more...The lead role is played by the multi-awardwinning Count-Chef Marcantonio Sagramoso, who is famed for his dishes in Italy and abroad.